It was all I could say. In June of 2010, I had just moved from my college home of six years to Cincinnati, the biggest city I had ever known. No job. No plan. No family. No clue. I only knew that God had insisted I move there after graduation. A couple weeks after the move, I surprised my youth group from Missouri at a CIY Move conference and spent the week with them, as a final farewell.
As anyone who goes to a beloved week of camp knows, the last night is the hardest. Inevitably there are more emotions flowing than water over the edge of a cliff (tears number in those amounts too). The youth minister had been a good friend of mine all through college; we’d even grown up together in the same church. His wife was my best friend in high school. When the time came to say goodbye, a wall holding back a well of tears broke, and I clung to them and just cried.
I can tell you now what I could never have known then. God provided a job for me as an American Sign Language interpreter in the educational system and surrounded me with a family of support as well as a church family to serve with. Yes, there were times I felt lonely being so far away from the home I had come to know, but I was never alone in the new home that God had provided. I was hesitant to let my roots get attached, stubbornly thinking God would call me elsewhere and soon. Finally those walls broke down, and I experienced the beautiful freedom of community.
The story I really want to share with you begins in the summer of 2015. When I say “want to share,” please know that this is very personal, therefore terrifying to throw out there for you.
That summer, I decided in faith to leave my job as an ASL interpreter, due to an unhealthy work environment. I had no specific prospects or plan. Just knew it was time to go. I applied for other interpreting jobs in the Cincinnati area and watched as every opportunity I could think of was blocked from my reach.
I wondered if it was time to consider another career path. I prayed Gideon-style about an upcoming interpreting certification test to show me whether I should continue down this path or time to change. Despite nobody wanting to hire me as an interpreter, I passed my test, which meant God, as I prayed in faith, was saying I wasn’t done with working with the Deaf.
Well, I was a mite confused at this point. A week later, I met a man who really added to that confusion as time went on, but that’s love I guess, isn’t it? Over time, we began to plan for a life together; very slowly did the planning happen, but we were very serious in our commitment to each other. We had faith in God and prayed over every step in our relationship. In the meantime, God had thankfully provided a temporary means of income for me: part-time restaurant kitchen worker. Try not to be jealous.
It all seemed to be coming together. God was getting me ready to leave Cincinnati. It was time for a new chapter in life and it was in a new place with a new man (or any man, for that matter) and new ministry opportunities and new people… Who wouldn’t be excited about that!
Then Grandma died. Suddenly, my parents are talking about “letting the kids know our wishes.” I instantly and unintentionally aged. Then this seemingly God-promised man and I broke up. Then this job that God also provided was more stressful and difficult than the unhealthy work environment I had just escaped.
My successful independence GONE.
My future I’d planned for the first time in my life GONE.
My uncomfortable comfort zone of steady routine GONE.
My entire identity I had finally discovered GONE.
This God-given new home was crumbling around me. Now where is my faith supposed to take me?
In that moment when the only grip you have is the hug you’re clinging to, the admission of fear releases more than just the worry you’d been grasping onto for dear life. When you let go of the fear of the unknown and hold tightly to that hug, there is peace.
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.”
1 John 4:18a NLT